There’s a long-standing urban myth that nightshade vegetables and inflammation go-hand-in-hand, and that potatoes are full of poisonous cyanide. There are a lot of myths surrounding food; none of which are backed up by science. Did you know the guy behind the celery juice trend is a medium! Poisonous potatoes and nightshade vegetables are one of those fear foods due to misconceptions. So do nightshade vegetables cause inflammation, and why are people afraid of this food group? Keep reading to find out.
What Are Nightshade Vegetables?
To understand nightshade vegetables and inflammation, you need to know what they are first. What’s the difference between nightshade vegetables and other vegetables?
Nightshade vegetables are vegetables which come from the flowering plants of the Solanaceae family. This includes:
- Cayanne Peppers
- Bell Peppers
Are Potatoes Poisonous!?
No, you can’t poison yourself with potatoes. That said, vodka is made from potatoes…
All kinds of potatoes except for yams and sweet potatoes are classes as nightshade vegetables. Nightshades contain solanine, which is a glycoalkaloid poison found in most parts of the plants. Solanine is toxic in high concentrations but is normally found in trace and safe amounts in vegetables. However, green potatoes can be toxic, which is arguably one of the reasons why they’re not a very common food. That said, the amount you would need to eat to experience any negative effects is a lot. Eating up to 5 grams of green potatoes per kilogram of body weight per day doesn’t seem to cause any illness.
Solanine can survive boiling, so if you’re paranoid frying these vegetables should do the trick.
So Do Nightshade Vegetables Cause Inflammation?
No scientific studies have proved that nightshade vegetables cause inflammation. The urban myth about nightshade vegetables and inflammation is to do with the fact that the presence of solanine in these vegetables.
That said, anecdotally, some people don’t react well to certain foods; which for some is nightshade vegetables. So if you personally find that you don’t feel your best if you’re eating those vegetables a lot, then you might need to eliminate them from your diet. Have a chat with your doctor and a dietitian first, to determine which foods don’t suit you and if there are any external factors affecting this.
What Foods Cause Inflammation?
Foods like vegetables don’t cause inflammation, so the theory of nightshade vegetables and inflammation going hand in hand is sometimes more correlation and not causation. However, there are foods that cause inflammation, and you probably can already guess which ones do.
The following foods have been linked with inflammation:
- Sugar (refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup)
- Refined carbs
- Processed meat
- Oils, such as vegetable and seed oils
In short; if it’s processed, it might cause inflammation.
I always say enjoy things in moderation; life’s too short to never enjoy refined sugar or carbs sometimes, but if you do have an inflammatory condition, these these foods might have more of a negative effect on you than on someone who doesn’t.
So What Do Inflammatory Foods Do?
Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes our body needs to trigger it for self-defense; to kill pathogens or bacteria. When we get hurt, and the body starts swelling and bruising; that’s inflammation.
The problem is chronic inflammation. In fact, there is a hypothesis that may chronic illnesses are due to persistent low-grade inflammation.
Long periods of constant inflammation causes oxidative stress, and effects our glucose and lipid levels.
What Are Anti-Inflammatory Foods?
Anti-inflammatory foods or anti-inflammation diets, are foods which are packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants that the body needs to combat inflammation. These are the kind of foods you would expect, like fruit, vegetables, and a lot of plant-based food.
Common anti-imflammatory foods:
- Green leafy veg (eg. kale, spinach)
- Olive oil
- CBD oil
It might be a surprise that tomatoes are an anti-inflammatory food given that they’re a nightshade vegetable! Tomatoes are great anti-imflammation foods because they contain lycopene and vitamin C!
The Bottom Line On Nightshade & Inflammation
So no, potatoes aren’t poisonous, and nightshade vegetables do not cause inflammation.
There isn’t a proven link between nightshade vegetables and inflammation. So far, science hasn’t proven that they’re inflammatory. However, anecdotaylly, some people don’t feel right after some foods; which is fine, just make sure to get your nutriens from aother source. That said, if you were fine eating potatoes before and then heard this urban myth that potatoes are poisonous, bare in mind that the placebo effect could be putting you off them!
As always, be sure to consult your doctor and dietitian before making any changes to your diet or medications, especially if you have an inflammatory condition such as arthritis. If you’d like to learn more about diet and chronic illness, check out my chat with Artie Carden about IBD and IBS.